The project comes from Blackbird Interactive, who was asked by members of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create a demo of a what a possible Mars base would look like. Although it’s technically not a game, users can use it to explore and learn about the solar system’s fourth planet. Eagle base is “grounded in real possibilities, informed by real science with direct guidance and feedback from NASA and JPL scientists about the technological and material constraints for building human habitation on the red planet,” according to its Steam page.
“Project” Eagle was built in Unity using terrain data from the HiRise camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It was first unveiled live onstage at the 2017 D.I.C.E. Summit by NASA’s Dr. Jeff Norris, and BBI’s CEO Rob Cunningham and CCO Aaron Kambeitz. In an interview with Polygon last year, Norris said they wanted to publicly exhibit a project that shows what the medium of video games could do for inspiring space exploration.
“We do want to figure out how best we can get NASA to engage the video game industry to support and encourage these kinds of works,” he said.
“Project Eagle” totally free to download, with no in-app purchases or microtransactions. It launched one day after NASA’s InSight probe successfully landed on Mars’ surface. InSight will now spend two years studying the planet’s interior and hopefully help scientists understand how Mars and similarly rocky planets formed.